Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Keeping It Together

How can we not lose our souls when everything and everybody pulls us in the most different directions? How can we "keep it together" when we are constantly torn apart?

Jesus says: "Not a hair of your head will be lost. Your perseverance will win you your lives" (Luke 21:18-19). We can only survive our world when we trust that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. We can only keep it together when we believe that God holds us together. We can only win our lives when we remain faithful to the truth that every little part of us, yes, every hair, is completely safe in the divine embrace of our Lord. To say it differently: When we keep living a spiritual life, we have nothing to be afraid of.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Remaining Faithful

Many people live with the unconscious or conscious expectation that eventually things will get better; wars, hunger, poverty, oppression, and exploitation will vanish; and all people will live in harmony. Their lives and work are motivated by that expectation. When this does not happen in their lifetimes, they are often disillusioned and experience themselves as failures.

But Jesus doesn't support such an optimistic outlook. He foresees not only the destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem but also a world full of cruelty, violence, and conflict. For Jesus there is no happy ending in this world. The challenge of Jesus is not to solve all the world's problems before the end of time but to remain faithful at any cost.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Guarding Our Souls

The great danger of the turmoil of the end-time in which we live is losing our souls. Losing our souls means losing touch with our center, our true call in life, our mission, our spiritual task. Losing our soul means becoming so distracted by and preoccupied with all that is happening around us that we end up fragmented, confused, and erratic. Jesus is very aware of that danger. He says: "Take care not to be deceived, because many will come using my name and saying, 'I am the one' and 'The time is near at hand' Refuse to join them" (Luke 21:8).

In the midst of anxious times there are many false prophets, promising all sorts of "salvations." It is important that we be faithful disciples of Jesus, never losing touch with our true spiritual selves.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Blinded by the Fog

It was a fog-shrouded morning, July 4, 1952, when a young woman named Florence Chadwick waded into the water off Catalina Island.

She intended to swim the channel from the island to the California coast. Long-distance swimming was not new to her; she had been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. The water was numbing cold that day. The fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats in her party. Several times sharks had to be driven away with rifle fire. She swam more than 15 hours before she asked to be taken out of the water. Her trainer tried to encourage her to swim on since they were so close to land, but when Florence looked, all she saw was fog. So she quit. . . only one-mile from her goal. Later she said, "I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it." It wasn't the cold or fear or exhaustion that caused Florence Chadwick to fail. It was the fog.

Thought: Many times we too fail, not because we're afraid or because of the peer pressure or because of anything other than the fact that we lose sight of the goal. By the way, two months after her failure, Florence Chadwick walked off the same beach into the same channel and swam the distance, setting a new speed record, because she could see the land!

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).

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Many times we fail, though the goal is just near, very near because we are blinded by the fog. The fog is the threat of Satan to test our confidence, our faith in God. We are not trusting our God but we succumb by the imminent threat, Satan's threat.

Monday, September 14, 2009


"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)

How does a person achieve extraordinary success? Ken Kragen, a major Hollywood agent, took talented performers like Kenny Rogers, Travis Tritt, and Lionel Ritchie and made them superstars. His observations on what makes the difference between a star and a superstar might surprise you.
Lots of people sing beautifully, work hard, and stay focused, yet still don't make it to the top.
According to Ken, author of Life is a Contact Sport, superstars are usually the people who get the most help. He taught his clients to cultivate help by making more contacts, sending more thank you notes, and just being nice. Being "helpable" is key to achieving your full potential.
God answers a request from Paul in 2 Corinthians with the phrase we all know so well, "My strength is made perfect in your weakness."
In other words God is saying to Paul, "By admitting you have weaknesses and need help, you can be so much stronger. If you try to do everything on your own, you'll only get so far."
Paul may not have been able to accomplish what he did for the Kingdom of God if he had not understood this message.
By opening himself up to God's help, Paul achieved superstar status in the Bible. He appreciated God's direct help spiritually, as well as the help he received through the people God had placed in his life. In most of Paul's letter we see him thanking his brethren and asking for continued help and support.
By admitting you have weaknesses and need help, your life will be so much more successful. By allowing God to work with you and through you, achieving success is not only easier, it's more lasting and more fulfilling.
Being created by God, we all have the potential for being superstars in the kingdom if only we allow ourselves to accept His help.

Bonnie St. John, an Olympic medalist
AllWorship Email

Opportunities to Witness

Jesus teaches us how to live in the present time. He identifies our present time as the end-time, the time that offers us countless opportunities to testify for Jesus and his Kingdom. The many disasters in our world, and all the tragedies that happen to people each day, can easily lead us to despair and convince us that we are the sad victims of circumstances. But Jesus looks at these events in a radically different way. He calls them opportunities to witness!

Jesus reminds us that we do not belong to this world. We have been sent into the world to be living witnesses of God's unconditional love, calling all people to look beyond the passing structures of our temporary existence to the eternal life promised to us.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

None of These Diseases

"If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."1

Regarding the laws God gave to the ancient Israelites. While perhaps seeming somewhat strange to us today, many of these were actually laws of health and hygiene. If the people heeded and lived by God's laws, they would be a whole lot healthier than their counterparts in Egypt. In a very similar way, living according to God's laws and principles will also help us to live happier and healthier lives.

For example, Ravi Zacharias writes: "In a fascinating article in the April 2000 issue of Christianity Today, psychology professor David G. Myers sifted through evidence to see if it indicated whether faith more often uplifts or debilitates. He writes, 'We now have massive evidence that people in active faith communities are happier and healthier than their un-churched peers. Recent epidemiological studies reveal they even outlive their un-churched peers by several years.'

"After paragraphs of citing statistics gathered from the United States and abroad, he concludes that the correlation between faith and morality is more commonsensical than one might think. 'If your car broke down in a crime-ridden area and some strapping teenage boys approached you,' asks commentator Dennis Prager, 'wouldn't you feel better to know they had just come from a Bible study?'"2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, again I thank you for the laws and principles found in your Word that, when followed diligently, guarantee a healthier, happier, and more productive life. Help me to so live. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Exodus 15:26 (NKJV).
2. Ravi Zacharias, "A Slice of Infinity," December 2, 2002, http://www.sliceofinfinity.org.


Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Living in the End-Time

We are living in the end-time! This does not mean that creation will soon come to its end, but it does mean that all the signs of the end of time that Jesus mentions are already with us: wars and revolutions, conflicts between nations and between kingdoms, earthquakes, plagues, famines, and persecutions (see Luke 21:9-12).

Jesus describes the events of our world as announcements that this world is not our final dwelling place, but that the Son of Man will come to bring us our full freedom. "When these things begin to take place," Jesus says, "stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand" (Luke 21:28). The terrible events surrounding us must be lived as ways to make us ready for our final liberation.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

The Judgment Seat of Christ

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."1

Question: Another Daily Encounter reader asks: "You said that man would be judged for what he did for God here on earth. I have always been of the opinion that what we did on earth for God won't even be mentioned. I was brought up to believe that, 'We are saved by faith, not of works lest any man should boast.' To me that means that what we did for God while on earth is not going to be a topic that we will face. Could you please give me some insight into this?"

Answer: Actually there are two judgments in the Bible—there's a good one and a bad one. First the good one: This is known as the judgment seat of Christ which is only for Christians. Here we will not be judged for our sins because they have already been judged and the penalty paid for by Jesus when he died on the cross in our place. The judgment seat of Christ is where Christians will be rewarded on the basis of their faithful service for the Lord while here on earth. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "That each one may receive what is due him for the things done while [here on earth]."1

The second judgement is what is known as "The Great White Throne Judgement" of God. The Apostle John wrote, "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it … And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books … and each person was judged according to what he had done … If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire [hell]."2

This judgment of God is for those who never accepted Jesus as their Savior and received God's pardon. At this judgment they will be judged for their sins—and will have to accept the just penalty for them because they rejected Jesus sacrifice of paying the penalty for them by his death on the cross. Sadly, God will say to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me."3

A terrifying thing for those who don't know Jesus Christ as their Savior: they will be lost forever in hell—whatever and wherever that place may be. One thing about hell is certain: it is an eternal separation from God, the author of all love and life—a place prepared for the devil and his demons of evil.

God has made it very clear in his Word that "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment."4 So whatever you do, make absolutely sure that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. This is obtaining your Passport for Heaven. Whatever you do, don't leave earth without it.

For help be sure to read "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: http://tinyurl.com/real-christian.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that your Word makes the way of salvation very clear. Grant that I shall so live that I will not be disappointed at the judgment seat of Christ. Also that my life will be a living witness of your love and salvation so that others will want to accept you and not have to appear before you at the Great White Judgment. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

3. Matthew 7:23 (NKJV).
4. Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV).


Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Choosing the Blessings

It is an ongoing temptation to think of ourselves as living under a curse. The loss of a friend, an illness, an accident, a natural disaster, a war, or any failure can make us quickly think that we are no good and are being punished. This temptation to think of our lives as full of curses is even greater when all the media present us day after day with stories about human misery.

Jesus came to bless us, not to curse us. But we must choose to receive that blessing and hand it on to others. Blessings and curses are always placed in front of us. We are free to choose. God says, Choose the blessings!

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

One Way to God: Fact or Fiction?

"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."1

Daily Encounter reader writes: "About your 'I Hate Religion' article …It seems pretty judgmental to me. Are you saying that the ONLY right way to worship the one true God is Christianity? If you are, I have a little quote for YOU, 'Judge not lest ye be judged.'"

Hello, Judy (name changed), you ask if I am saying that the only way to God is Christianity. Actually, I'm quoting Jesus and God's Word. Jesus said without apology,
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." And again, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."2

In actuality, had there been any other way to God, why would Jesus, the Son of God, have come to earth to die on the cross for our sins? Furthermore, I would much rather listen to what God has said than listen to what man-made religions say. Also, when we decide what is/are the way/s to God, we put ourselves above God and his Word. This is a very dangerous path to follow.

As Jesus also said,
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."3

Yes, it is true that Jesus said,
"Judge not, that ye be not judged."4 At the same time God's Word also says, "But he that is spiritual judges all things."5 In other words, while we are not to be judgmental towards people, we are to be wise and judge what others do, say, and teach.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a love for your Word so that I will always know the truth of what you say, and so that I am not deceived by what others say—no matter how comfortable their words may be. Help me to always choose the way of your Truth, no matter how uncomfortable and unpopular that may be. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Note: See God's way based on God's Word, the Bible, for "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at:http://tinyurl.com/real-christian.

Acts International - Daily Inspiration

John 14:6 (NIV).
Acts 4:12 (NKJV).
Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV).
Matthew 7:1 (KJV).
1 Corinthians 2:15 (NKJV).


Monday, September 7, 2009

Blessing One Another

To bless means to say good things. We have to bless one another constantly. Parents need to bless their children, children their parents, husbands their wives, wives their husbands, friends their friends. In our society, so full of curses, we must fill each place we enter with our blessings. We forget so quickly that we are God's beloved children and allow the many curses of our world to darken our hearts. Therefore we have to be reminded of our belovedness and remind others of theirs. Whether the blessing is given in words or with gestures, in a solemn or an informal way, our lives need to be blessed lives.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Healing Letters

When you write a very angry letter to a friend who has hurt you deeply, don't send it! Let the letter sit on your table for a few days and read it over a number of times. Then ask yourself: "Will this letter bring life to me and my friend? Will it bring healing, will it bring a blessing?" You don't have to ignore the fact that you are deeply hurt. You don't have to hide from your friend that you feel offended. But you can respond in a way that makes healing and forgiveness possible and opens the door for new life. Rewrite the letter if you think it does not bring life, and send it with a prayer for your friend.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Choosing Words Wisely

Words are very important. When we say to someone: "You are an ugly, useless, despicable person," we might have ruined the possibility for a relationship with that person for life. Words can continue to do harm for many years.

It is so important to choose our words wisely. When we are boiling with anger and eager to throw bitter words at our opponents, it is better to remain silent. Words spoken in rage will make reconciliation very hard. Choosing life and not death, blessings and not curses often starts by choosing to remain silent or choosing carefully the words that open the way to healing.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Life After Life Guarantee

"If we have been united with him [Jesus Christ] like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection."1

There's an old story about a small boy who was walking along the street with his parents during the Second World War. They saw a house with a gold star hanging in the window. 'What does that mean?' asked the boy. His parents told him that it meant that that family had lost a son in the war, and that star symbolized their loss. Later on that evening, as the boy saw the first star come out in the summer sky, the boy excitedly exclaimed, 'Look! God lost a son, too!'"2

Regardless of the time of year may we ever be mindful of the "so great a salvation" God provided for us through the giving of his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for all our sins and, through his resurrection, to give us the guarantee that we, too, will arise and be given the gift of eternal life—that is, life after this life—through Jesus Christ our Lord. This is God's promise to all who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and therein have received God's forgiveness for all their sins*

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you not only gave your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in my place, but also that he rose again giving me the hope and guarantee of the resurrection for all who believe in you and have accepted Jesus as their Savior. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Acts International - Daily Inspiration
1. Romans 6:5 (NIV).
2. "The Grief of God," A sermon by Donald B. Strobe, of East Lansing, Michigan


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Great Sermons are Not Preached, They're Lived

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13 (NIV)

What if someone followed me around with a video camera all day documenting my every move? Catching on camera all of my words, facial expressions, actions, and reactions. And then what if someone packaged it all together and played it on some sort of reality TV show for all the world to see? What would be the glaring message of my life?

I am convicted thinking about this.

You see, if someone were to ask me, what are you all about? I would have some nice sounding answers. But what actually happens during the strains of everyday life can sometimes betray my best intentions.

I want to be a loving wife. Yet I can sometimes be found in a grumpy, selfish mood and view my husband as a business partner that better hold up his end of helping out.

I want to be a wise and patient mom. But my kids know the exact buttons to push that send me into a tailspin of emotion and exhaustion.

I want to be a strong witness for Christ. So why is it that I can read my Bible first thing in the morning and then find myself honking at the person that cuts me off in traffic just an hour later?

I realize there is a place for God's tender mercies for me in all this. But I also know that while no TV cameras are following me around, my life is speaking a message about what I really believe and I want that message to honor Jesus. I once heard, "Great sermons are not preached, they are lived." Oh how I long to live a message that speaks loud and clear, "Jesus is true and the principles found in His teachings work!"

Let's just be honest, it's tough being a sold out soul for Christ stuck in a body that is so tempted to sin. That's why it's essential I view my time with God each morning as a preparation and an invitation.

  • Preparation: Every verse, devotion and prayer is all part of God's preparation for me that day. Instead of just rushing to check off my to do list that I spent a few minutes with God, I must allow His teachings to seep into my heart and mind. Then I must ask God to interrupt my natural flesh response and remind me throughout the day the truths He taught me that morning. That's the preparation part.

  • Invitation: The next essential view of my quiet time each morning is recognizing I've just invited Jesus to do life with me today, so I need to look for His activity throughout my day. My minute by minute theme then becomes, "Not my will God, but Yours be done." So if my husband forgets to do something he promised, or my kids push my buttons, or a person cuts me off in traffic, or one of the other one million things happens that causes my flesh to want to rear up and act ugly... I can say, "Not my will God, but Yours be done." This slight pause and acknowledgement of God redirects my frustration and replaces it with grace. And most wonderful of all, it helps me connect my time with Jesus to everyday life choices. Making that connection is how we personally hear from and experience God!

I know, sometimes it's hard to spend time with Jesus first thing in the morning. And I'm certainly not trying to make this just another demand on our time. But, why not spend just a few minutes... even if it is just a few... letting Jesus prepare us for whatever we'll be facing that day and invite Him to intervene before our natural reactions to things betray our best intentions. Then and only then will my life speak to the fact that I have spent time with Jesus... and without saying a word, my imperfect life will be a God-honoring sermon.

Lysa TerKeurst

Dear Lord, please teach me how to reveal more and more of You through the way I live my life. I want to tell the whole world about You using words only when necessary. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Yes, this is a very good message especially in our daily walk with God."Not my will God, but Yours be done."



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mastering Evil with Good

The apostle Paul writes to the Romans: "Bless your persecutors; never curse them, bless them. ... Never pay back evil with evil. ... Never try to get revenge. ... If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink. ... Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good" (Romans 12:14-21). These words cut to the heart of the spiritual life. They make it clear what it means to choose life, not death, to choose blessings not curses. But what is asked of us here goes against the grain of our human nature. We will only be able to act according to Paul's words by knowing with our whole beings that what we are asked to do for others is what God has done for us.

'Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!'


A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door!
He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, 'What was that all about and who are you?
Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do that?'
The young boy was apologetic. 'Please, mister...please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do,' He pleaded. 'I threw the brick because no one else would stop...' With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. 'It's my brother, 'he said 'He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up' Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, 'Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me.' Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat.. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh
scrapes and cuts.
A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. 'Thank you and may God bless you,' the grateful child told the stranger.
Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home ..
It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: 'Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!'

God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It's our choice to listen or not.
Thought for the Day:
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it .
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring.
He sends you a sunrise every morning .
Face it, friend - He is crazy about you.
Send this to every "beautiful person" you wish to bless .
God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.
Read this line very slowly and let it sink in.. .
If God brings you to it,
He will bring you through it .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Claiming Our God Given Selves

When we have been deeply hurt by another person, it is nearly impossible not to have hostile thoughts, feelings of anger or hatred, and even a desire to take revenge. All of this often happens spontaneously, without much inner control. We simply find ourselves brooding about what we are going to say or do to pay back the person who has hurt us. To choose blessings instead of curses in such a situation asks for an enormous leap of faith. It calls for a willingness to go beyond all our urges to get even and to choose a life-giving response.

Sometimes this seems impossible. Still, whenever we move beyond our wounded selves and claim our God-given selves, we give life not just to ourselves but also to the ones who have offended us.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

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